Q & A with the Class of 2021’s Valedictorian & Salutatorian

March 9, 2021

The Class of 2021’s Valedictorian Jonah Finkelstein and Salutatorian Morgan Sindle sat down with The Wire and discussed their outstanding achievement and what got them to that point. Both students worked incredibly hard throughout high school to maintain their great grades while juggling extracurriculars, hobbies, friendships and responsibilities. Jonah and Morgan especially want to thank their family, along with their friends and teachers for helping them get to where they are today. The skills they have learned during their time at West Essex have prepared them for their bright futures ahead; Jonah will be studying chemistry at Vanderbilt University on the Pre-Med track, and Morgan will be studying Biomedical Engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering also on the Pre-Med track. The Class of 2021 along with the West Essex family is proud to have these two individuals representing the Knights every step of the way. Read below for some words of wisdom and advice from Jonah and Morgan. 

Jonah Finkelstein

Jonah+Finkelstein

Q: How does it feel to be named Valedictorian of the Class of 2021? What was your initial reaction to the news? 

A:I was certainly very excited when I was first told I was valedictorian. I knew I was in the running, but I was very surprised when I learned how tight the race actually was…It feels great to have the pressure of grades off my back, both in terms of class rank and colleges.”

 

Q: What was your work ethic like throughout high school? How did you juggle schoolwork and extracurriculars? 

A: “I always put in the effort to do my homework and projects well and I tried my best to pay attention during all my classes. By putting in the effort during school and paying attention, I was able to avoid a lot of studying that would have otherwise taken up my free time. I think reducing the amount of time I spent studying was the most important factor in balancing my time… I also think that having a lot of extracurriculars helped me to balance my time in some ways. With so much to keep track of, I had to be aware of the time I was spending on one activity versus another.”

 

Q: What are the academic achievements you are most proud of?

A: “The academic achievement I am most proud of is being named valedictorian. It has been many years in the making and required the most effort by far. Another achievement that I am proud of is doing research at Kean University. I applied and was accepted to a summer program at Kean where I did research on potential brain cancer treatments. I enjoyed taking part in a project with such a profound impact that few other high-schoolers could compare to. Some smaller achievements I am proud of are from clubs at school such as receiving first-place regional and state awards for both FBLA and DECA in business law competitions.” 

 

Q: What is some academic advice you have for the rising classes at WE?

A: “I would recommend maintaining a good balance between time spent on school work and hobbies/extracurriculars. I avoided a lot of burnout by participating in activities I enjoyed rather than dedicating all of my time to my school work.” 

Morgan Sindle

Morgan+Sindle

Q: How does it feel to be named Salutatorian of the Class of 2021? What was your initial reaction to the news? 

A: “It feels amazing to be named Salutatorian. It came as a complete shock to me. Throughout high school, I always did my best not to compare myself to my peers and not to ask others about their grades or GPAs, so I truly had no idea what my rank was. I was thrilled when I learned the news because it felt like a rewarding culmination of my effort and dedication over the years.”

 

Q: What was your work ethic like throughout high school? How did you juggle schoolwork and extracurriculars? 

A: “I always put in 100% effort into my academics, but I also reserved time and energy for myself for extracurriculars and activities outside of school. I was able to recognize when I was overexerting myself with schoolwork and when I should focus more time on my extracurriculars and hobbies. By doing so, I was able to improve my academics as well because I balanced my academic obligations with things that make me happy.”

 

Q: What are the academic achievements you are most proud of?

A: “I am most proud of how I have never given up, even when faced with challenges. When I am struggling in a class, I make sure to ask questions and ask for help in order to improve not only my knowledge of the topics in the class but also my understanding and progress as a student.”

 

Q: What is some academic advice you have for the rising classes at WE?

A: “One of the most important pieces of advice I can give to the rising classes at WE is to both challenge yourself and recognize your limits. I am so grateful that I chose to take difficult courses each year that I knew would challenge me because I grew intellectually and as a student as a result. However, it is also necessary to realize when you need a break. I am also grateful that I chose to take electives I enjoyed and carved out free time for myself because by doing so, I made my high school experience more memorable and enjoyable.”

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